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Emerging Birmingham Playwright, Thomas Moran, set to make some NOISE Thomas Moran is the Artistic Director of presentabsence theatre. Thomas is a freelance Writer/Director and has worked alongside Birmingham Repertory Theatre, National Theatre and more on an array of productions. Thomas has recently been selected to join the Foundry collective at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. presentabsence theatre formed in 2016 sees them staging their physically-charged new piece, NOISE at The Old Rep. We caught up with Thomas to find out more… Tell us a bit about NOISE and where the idea came from... NOISE primarily stemmed from an encounter I had working 
as a Front of House Assistant. Whilst ushering, a large group 
of deaf patrons were visiting for an accessible performance 
and, lo-and-behold, they were approaching me. I froze. I 
didn’t know how to communicate with them, it felt alien to 
me and I felt like I might be being patronising towards them. 
What should have been a simple encounter became an 
awkward exchange of eye-dodging. Eventually, they 
managed to navigate their own way leaving me feeling 
frustrated. What was the issue? Was I the problem or were they? Why couldn’t we communicate? These questions, alongside many others whirring around my mind led me to do some research. I wanted to learn British Sign Language (BSL) and I wanted to understand what the barriers of communication are and how we can overcome them. What involvement have deaf artists had in shaping the piece and making it accessible? Working on the (now Olivier-nominated) The Government Inspector with Ramps on the Moon and Birmingham Repertory Theatre gave me the honour of sharing the experience alongside a powerhouse cast of D/deaf, hearing, disabled and able-bodied artists. As a Performing Captioner on this national tour, I was contributing to the accessible nature of the production and collaborated with the company to ensure it was achieved effectively for its users. Around the same time, I was re-drafting NOISE and I shared the script with members of the cast, both hearing and D/deaf, to get their opinions and input to help create a realistic portrayal of D/deaf characters. From day one, I always knew I wanted this piece to be inclusive which is why all performances are going to be signed, captioned and audio described.
At its core, what is NOISE about? The strongest themes are identity and acceptance. I hope NOISE encourages the audience to understand the importance of love, kindness and unity in a time where division is prevalent. What kind of voice do you feel the show gives to the young gay community? The majority of the creative and production team who have seen this piece come to fruition are either gay, lesbian or bisexual, which is incredibly empowering as we bring together a collective voice to champion our community. Not only this, but the subject matter of NOISE represents the young gay
community in a way which I feel isn’t often evident in many productions. It demonstrates how diversity enriches people. I hope NOISE will encourage the next wave of LGBTQ+ artists to create work and share their voice with confidence and integrity. As a young Birmingham-based theatre maker, how does it feel to be creating and premiering the show here in Birmingham at The Old Rep? Overwhelming. I do that thing…the thing where you walk past a building and say to someone, “One day, I want to have worked there.” I did this exact thing two years ago when the first lightbulb of an idea for NOISE entered my head. I have always felt that I want my work to be created and premièred in Birmingham as there is a real warmth and a sense of home within the city. To have this opportunity to debut my first piece of written work in such a stunning venue is a top-of-the-bucket-list item that I am still in amazement I will be able to cross off. What are your plans for the show after the premiere in Birmingham? The whole team behind the production are ready to see this two-year vision springboard into action and it is hoped that following its première in Birmingham, we will go on to tour NOISE nationally. But shh, it’s a secret... Have you got any other plays in the 
pipeline that we should look out for? I am currently working on a play very 
different to NOISE. In December 2016, in 
the rehearsal rooms at Birmingham 
Repertory Theatre, we had a week-long 
Research and Development period on 
blue moon which is loosely based on a 
true story about surveillance and how 
one could abuse its powers. It is still 
being re-drafted as we speak, but it is 
hoped that this will be a next project for 
presentabsence theatre. And finally, why should people come and see NOISE? NOISE is a heart-warming story of love and togetherness told through physically-charged drama. Expect pulsating beats, stark movement and Monsters Inc. obsessives in a touching tale of life that celebrates everybody: their beauty, flaws and the magic of diversity. If you care not for division but for individuality, NOISE is the exciting new piece of writing for you. NOISE runs at The Old Rep Thursday 13 – Saturday 15 April. All performances are signed, captioned and audio described. For tickets and more information, visit oldreptheatre.co.uk
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